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Revenge of God: The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern World Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 215 pages
  • Publisher: Pennsylvania State Univ Pr (Trd) (December 13, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0271013133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0271013138
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,216,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

An informative history, previously published (1991) in France, of one of this century's more unexpected developments-- the explosive popularity of religious orthodoxy. Kepel, an authority on Islamic fundamentalism, surveys the outburst of conservatism in major Western religions, and the effects of this movement on the secular state. Contradicting earlier studies that depict orthodoxy as a simple ``no'' to modernism, Kepel paints a more complex portrait of adherents who are often young, well-educated technocrats. The new conservatism (of which only a fraction is fundamentalist) is, he argues, ``evidence of a deep malaise in society.'' The harbingers came 15 years ago, with the rise of Israel's Likkud party in 1977, the election of John Paul II in 1978, and the Iranian revolution in 1979. Kepel traces the roots of the Islamic revolt to the pre-WW II Muslim Brotherhood, whose followers preached a total break with the secular state. Their influence can be seen in the Intifada, the Shi'ite revolution in Iran, and the Rushdie affair. Christian conservatism has two components: Catholic aspirations for the ``re-Christianization of Europe,'' tied to the fall of Communism and John Paul II's pontificate; and Protestant evangelism, especially strong in America, which has given rise not only to televangelism but, more recently, to a proliferation of evangelical universities. In Judaism, the emphasis is on returning secular Jews to the orthodox fold, epitomized by the proselytizing of the Lubavitch Hasidim. Kepel points out that all these movements share a rejection of the ``secular city,'' but that they disagree on alternatives, with Christian conservatives loyal to democracy but at least some of the Jewish and Islamic orthodox favoring theocracy. Belongs alongside Martin Marty and R. Scott Appleby's The Glory and the Power (1992) as a notable study of orthodoxy and its political ramifications. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.


An astonishing book on one of the burning issues of the day. --Le Parisien

Stimulating, remarkably well-informed, and completely unpartisan, The Revenge of God paints a disturbing picture of our world at the end of the millennium when, once again, apocalyptic voices are making themselves heard. --La Quinzaine Litteraire

This book is well-informed and written in a precise and accessible way. . . . Rather than take sides, Kepel concentrates on describing and analyzing a major phenomenon of our time. --Le Figaro

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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Islamic fundamentalists murdered nuns in Algeria, Menachem Goldstein opened fire on praying Muslims at the Tomb of the Patriarch, physicians and patients were gunned down at family planning clinics for performing legal abortions. The list of terror acts in the name of God is growing. What is the origin of this violence, and is there a common denominator between these different religious fundamentalists? Dr. Kepel describes in this very well written book how the three major Abrahamitic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam - four, if you like Dr. Kepel in this study, separate Protestantism and Catholicism) have gone through a notable transformation since the seventies, from adapting their doctrines to the surrounding secular world, to demanding that the secular world adapt to their doctrines. He shows how, as a consequence of this shift, the tolerance towards other religions as well as to secular society has been dramatically reduced. In turn, this has caused an increased willingness amongst religious extremists to use violence to ensure that the surrounding world follows and obeys the demands and customs of the religious communities. One of the central theses, and maybe the most interesting, in Kepel's book is how these tendencies are common to all four religions and how their origins also are similar. Partly because of his viewpoint - Kepel is a islamist at the French research agency CNRS - the book very effectively shows how also modern Christianity and Judaism show tendencies that many probably associate with only militant Islam.Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By RJ Buck on June 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book was originally published in France in 1991 and remains incredibly topical. It illustrates better than any book I know, the resurgence of religion the author calls `re-Christianization', `re-Islamicization' and `re-Judaicization'. It powerfully points out that the views of those who still feel secure in - or dismayed by - the apparent triumph of secular modernity, may be thirty years out of date.

For although by the early 1970's it seemed that a modern liberal secularity was becoming everywhere more dominant, by the late 1970's, the tide began to turn.

Kepel locates his account of this turning in four streams: Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Judaism and Islam. He begins with the late 70's founding of Falwell's Moral Majority, the 1978 election of Pope John Paul II, Begin's 1977 victory over nearly thirty years of secular Zionism and Khomeini's 1979 revolution in Iran, and goes on to marshal, an amazing amount of facts and insights from the following years illustrating a continued activity in all of these domains to establish cultures that break from secularism in decisive ways and mount challenges to the secularist state.

I give this book high praise on numerous accounts. Its subject is incredibly important and still so overlooked in many attempts to understand our contemporary world. Kepel's marshalling of evidence is prodigious. It is very well written and accessible. Its tone is balanced, fair and non-polemical. It cries out to read and absorbed - deeply - by anyone seeking to understand our times. I can hardly recommend it highly enough.

Thus, I am not prepared to dock this book a single star. Yet, as far as I am concerned, it has serious faults.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By E. A. Lovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on October 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Gilles Kepel, professor at the Institute of Political Studies of Paris is one of the world's foremost experts on the modern Middle East. In "The Revenge of God" he discusses the resurgence of the three monotheisms that each claims Jerusalem as its own holy city. This book was first published in 1994, but Professor Kepel's chapters on the Islamic revival can be profitably read with post-9/11 hindsight.
Just a glance at this week's 'NY Times' headlines such as "Syria, Long Ruthlessly Secular, Sees Fervent Islamic Resurgence" and "Bush Says He Disagrees With General [Boykin's] Remarks on Religion" are an indication that Professor Kepel's comparative essay is still very topical.
From my viewpoint, the most frightening chapters were not on the revival of Islamic extremism, but the battle for the re-Judaization of Israel by groups such as the Gush Emunim. Intellectually, the concept of 'sacred ground' is easily understood, but the viewpoint that non-Jews have no right to the land that had been promised to the Chosen People is harder to grasp by someone like myself who was raised in a secular state--especially when that viewpoint was carried to its logical extreme via a plot to blow up the mosques on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
If you think it is going to be easy for the Israeli Government to disband the West Bank settlements of its fundamentalist citizens, you need to read this book.
The title of this book might even give an atheist cause to fear when examined in the light of extremist groups such as Gush Emunium or the followers of Sayyid Qutb, the father of modern Islamist fundamentalism. According to Professor Kepel, the radical pessimism of Sayyid Qutb's message did not take root until social conditions in Egypt fell into disarray in the 1970s.
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